Fleischer Studios, Inc. is an American corporation which originated as a New York animation studio. It was founded in 1921 by brothers Max Fleischer and Dave Fleischer, who ran the company from its inception until they were fired by parent company and distributor Paramount Pictures in April 1942.
In its prime, Fleischer Studios was the most prominent competitor to Walt Disney Productions and is most notable for the production of cartoons featuring Koko the Clown, Betty Boop, Popeye the Sailor, and Superman. Unlike other studios, whose most famous characters were anthropomorphic animals, most of the Fleischers' most popular characters were humans.
The studio was conceived when Max Fleischer invented the Rotoscope, a technique of animated live-action that allowed for extremely lifelike animation. Shortly thereafter, the rotoscope was used to animate Koko the Clown in the Out of the Inkwell series. From 1924 to 1926 the brothers also pioneered sound synchronization in cartoons, but were given little credit as the later films "Steamboat Willie" and "The Jazz Singer" gained more widespread popularity.
(1919- The animators Max and David Fleischer who later formed the Fleischer studio were working for Bray Studio and created the Out of the Inkwell series rotoscoping Dave as Koko the clown)
1921- Max goes independent and moves to NYC
1923-1924 Experiment with clay animation in shorts such as Modelling and Clay Town. Fleischer studios also releases a silent film known as Einstein Theory of Relativity (more educational)
1924- Do Song CarTunes in sing-a-long songs while a bouncing ball hops on the words being sung.
1927- Everything is accompanied by an organist until 1928.
1928- (Disney came out with Steamboat Willie). Another clay short Earth Control. It’s also the advent of Talkies.
1929- (The CRASH of the stock market). Screen Songs and Talkartoons came out.
1930- Betty Boop debuts in Dizzy Dishes (in her more dog-like form).
1932- Betty Boop appears shows such as Minnie the Moocher, Betty Boop for President, and the especially provocative short Betty Boop’s Bamboo Isle
1933- Popeye the sailor stars on screen and Betty Boop stars in Snow White
1934- Betty at this point is seen in and and is still occasionally being thrown into the Inkwell. HAYES PRODUCTION CODE- forces cartoons to be less provocative- changes Betty Boop’s image.
1935- There is almost a complete walkout on the Fleischer studio
1936-The feature length film Popeye Meets Sinbad is created. Betty Boop is in Be Human (where Betty’s Gramps is introduced and Betty’s skirtline goes down and neckline goes up because of the Code).
1937- The Fleischer Studio goes through a 5 MONTH STRIKE (due to lack of benefits and extremely intense work atmosphere and hours). Popeye meets Ali Baba’s Forty Thieves (full-length and in technicolor).
1939- Gulliver’s Travels (also a feature length) is produced in response to Disney’s Snow White. Also produced Alladin and His Wonderful Lamp (Popeye). The studio moves to Miami and Betty Boop is cancelled. Brother’s Max and Dave are not getting along but Paramount funds their move to Miami.
1941- Mr. Bug Goes to Town (full length) and Superman shorts.
1942- They are fired by Paramount. Max and Dave split up and Dave goes to Hollywood.
Resources for Timeline
Cabarga, Leslie.The Fleischer Story. New York: DaCapo Press, 1988
Evans, Noell Wolfgram. “The Rise of the Labor Movement in Animation.” 2005. NEWSdial.com :<http://digitalmediafx.com/Features/labormovement.html >
Fleischer, Richard.Out of the Inkwell: Max Fleischer and the animation revolution. University Press of Kentucky, 2005.